Lasting passion for wool remembered

PGG Wrightson Wool general manager Grant Edwards. PHOTO: PGG WRIGHTSON
PGG Wrightson Wool general manager Grant Edwards. PHOTO: PGG WRIGHTSON
"Once you have a passion for wool, it never leaves", was the catchphrase of PGG Wrightson Wool general manager Grant Edwards.

Originally from Otago and well known in the region, Mr Edwards, 62, who had been based in Christchurch since 2017, died on Monday following an illness.

In a tribute from PGG Wrightson, it said his death was a great loss for those who had the pleasure of working with him in the wool and livestock industries.

Brought up in urban Oamaru, Mr Edwards became interested in agriculture at a young age, spending weekends on his cousins’ farm in North Otago. While originally wanting to be a vet, he headed to Lincoln University after leaving Waitaki Boys’ High School to complete an agricultural science degree.

After graduating, he joined stock and station company Reid Farmers and spent six months in Ranfurly as a trainee livestock representative before moving south to Clinton where he quickly got involved in the local community.

When he arrived — after having to look the township up on a map to find out where it was — he stopped at the garage, got talking to someone and ended up playing rugby for them that night.

After four years in South Otago, an opportunity arose for him to join the wool department at Reid Farmers in Dunedin. The job appealed, as wool science had been part of his degree, but his ties to the Clinton community were strong and he asked to stay on for six months so he could play through to the end of the rugby season and the local club’s centenary.

Once in Dunedin, he progressed through the ranks of the wool department, eventually becoming Reid Farmers’ wool manager. Then followed several mergers — with Southland Farmers and Pyne Gould Guinness — and a shift to Christchurch for a few years, still in the wool manager role.

The merger with PGG Wrightson proved a catalyst for Mr Edwards to look seriously at what he wanted to do and he decided it was time to do something a bit different. He left the company, shifted back to Dunedin and spent two years as a rural manager at ASB Bank.

In 2007, he returned to PGG Wrightson as Otago regional manager. His role then combined the management of the Otago region with general management of the company’s eight regions. He later moved to Christchurch to lead the company’s wool business.

PGG Wrightson said Mr Edwards’ strength was "navigating politics" to ensure outcomes were good for growers, the wool industry and the business. He was a member and chairman of various industry bodies.

"He could slice through what was meaningful to wool growers and had an exceptional understanding of how the wool business operated through all economic cycles."

His passion for the wool industry was unwavering and his leadership would leave a lasting influence, it said.

He is survived by his wife Lisa and children Kate and Will.